Shelbyville City

Shelby County, Kentucky

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Shelbyville City Hall is located at 315 Washington Street, Shelbyville, KY 40065.
Phone: 502‑633‑8000.

Beginnings [1]

Shelbyville was founded in 1792 and together with the county, named for Kentucky's first governor, Isaac Shelby [1750-1826].

Shelbyville was laid out on land owned by William Shannon where "the main road from Frankfort to the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville) crossed Clear Creek."


Shannon laid off 80 1/2 acre lots and donated 1 acre for public buildings. A committee composed of Joseph Winlock, Donald Staniford and Abraham Owen determined the location of the public square. The plan itself was rectilinear in design and covered the area of Shelbyville from the west side of Third on the east, to Bradshaw on the south, the east side of Seventh on the west, and Washington on the north. A board of trustees was set up to oversee the sale of the lots and the construction of the buildings. The first board of trustees included the 3 committee members mentioned above plus Thomas Guinn.

The trustees dictated the specifications for the houses to be as follows: "hewed log house with brick or stone chimney not less than one and one half stories, otherwise the lot or lots shall be forfeited for the benefit of the town."

By 1794, 20 houses of this type had been built. At this point, Shannon, who was still the principal owner of the lots, was killed in a fight with a tavern owner, John Felty. Felty also died of wounds inflicted during the fight by Shannon.

By 1800 Shelbyville had grown to 262 people. Additional building sites were made available in 1803 through a continuation of the grid pattern called the Western Addition. 25 1-1/2-acre lots and 16 2-acre lots were platted at this time. The area included in this expansion had Clear Creek forming the northern edge.

Education, churches, and community spirit figured prominently in the early history of Shelbyville. A school was established as early as 1796. The incorporation of Shelby Academy was approved by the General Assembly in 1798 and the trustees received a site from the town in 1806. In 1814, the Shelbyville Meeting House was built and served all denominations until each group built their own structure.

  1. Helen Powell, Carman and Powell, Inc., Multiple Resource Area of Shelbyville, City Limits of Shelbyville, KY, nomination document, 1984, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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